Review: “49ers” by 49ers (Vinyl, 1990)

Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 1990 eponymous debut album 49ers by Italian house act, 49ers. Will this album have a Touch of class, or should it sit outside the top 40? Read on…

49ers - 49ers (1990) album cover
49ers – 49ers (1990) album

This 8 track LP opens with the bass drums of the album’s third single Touch Me. This track is straight in with the vocal samples (there’s plenty of ‘Yeah’ on offer here) as the vocals kick in. There’s inspiration here from Aretha Franklin, but the song remains pretty simple in format. This track is catchy, and would have been reminiscent of other Italia House artists in the charts at roughly the same time (eg Black Box), and this inevitably helped them to gain a huge resounding success around the world with this track. It reached #3 in the UK chart.

I Need You follows this, and there’s a wonderful fat bass line at play here. The vocals are far softer here, with Dawn Mitchell on the microphone, but these build up rapidly as the verse collides with the chorus. Whilst not quite the pace and energy of Touch Me, this track feels like it’s more of a fully formed song. It stood as the 7th single from the album, but didn’t touch the UK charts.

Next up is a cover of Gloria Gaynor‘s huge hit single I Will Survive. This version stayed here on the album though, being the only song on this album to not be released as a single. This was a good move, because it sounds cheap and empty. It’s not even as good as a Sunfly karaoke backing track. The start is promising, sounding very much like the dramatic piano opening line, but then swiftly throws in a new beat and weak vocals. Better that they hadn’t bothered.

Die Walkure (translating as ‘The Valkyrie’) is next, and this was the acts lead single. It has an avalanche of samples, including a TV show-esque opening line, and the piano and strings repeated sequence sounds very reminiscent of Black Box. There’s even a hint of Papa’s Got A Brand New Pig-bag courtesy of some brass. It does sound like a meandering megamix, but it is an upbeat ending to side one.

Side Two opens with Don’t You Love Me, which was the album’s fourth single. The thudding bass drum and house piano earns it a nice catchy start, and a ton of samples once again remind you that this is right on the nose of the 90’s. The chorus is the strongest part, and it’s a nice start to the second half. The track reached #12 in the UK singles track.

How Longer is up next, and this one is quite a nice song. It reminds me a lot of earlier track Touch Me, as well as Loleatta Holloway’s Love Sensation and Black Box’s Ride On Time, but this is fine. Dawn really gets to show off her vocal power and energy here, and it results in a pretty strong track. It was the 5th single, but was only released in Italy, where it failed to chart.

Next up is Shadows (Remix) which begins with some party cries and pea whistles before unleashing an army of pianos. This is definitely Italia House zone, and the track is loaded with so many samples that it doesn’t really hang together very well now.

The album closes with Girl To Girl. The gentle percussive start that reminds me a bit of Edwin Starr’s hit Contact. It lures you in to what is essentially quite a nice song. There are nods throughout this to the disco era, and this is set alongside some really nice warm vocals. Again, it feels like a more fully formed song, and that makes it a nice way to end this album. The track found moderate success in the UK when it was released as a single, reaching #31.

Verdict

Over all, this album is a mixed bag. It was leading into a new decade and it had to deal with pop music and house music. It handles it messily at times, but inevitably doesn’t sound to my ears more than 30 years later, as fresh and exciting as it would have back in 1990.

The high points are very much the album’s opener Touch Me, with How Longer, Don’t You Love Me, and Girl To Girl putting in a strong performance too. Sadly, there’s a few disorientating tracks here too, but the pinnacle of sin goes to I Will Survive, which really is an awkward and embarrassing version of a song that didn’t need, and shouldn’t be, released by anyone but Gloria Gaynor.

Give it a listen for some great early 90’s music sounds, but be ready to skip a few tracks.

Rated 2 stars - A tough listen!
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 2 / 5
  • 1990 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #51
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.50 from a Discogs.com seller.

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